Time is a precious resource that we constantly utilize every second of the day, whether it’s thinking about what you believe in, finishing tasks or meeting people. Below are a few tips to manage our time well in this new year.
Busy bodies go from task A to B, then to C, and from C they progress all the way to Z until one can hear a mundane and elementary song being sung over and over again. It is as if a constant crescendo and decrescendo to the medley of Gary Jules, “Mad World” can be heard as a universal serenade until the lyrics exist as a script to one’s life.
In a world that relies on the economy of time, there are ramifications of its singularity. Time can be a slave, master, or a cohering substance to a person’s existence. It also stands as a man-made theory that brands an elusive logo on the wrists and minds of everyday people. Nevertheless, with enough focus, self-control, planning, correct mindset, and heart driven determination, one can escape the grasps of time.
Benjamin Franklin had once said, “Lost time is never found again.” If time exists as a concept, could it ever be lost? In the realm where time is a reality, it can definitely be lost, but in the realm of concepts and man-made theories, time does not exist.
Human beings have been measuring time for thousands of years, with everything from ancient sun dials, calendars, and to the modern timekeeping devices. All these tools help humans know what time it is, but these are all tools created by man-kind.
The question lies, “Was time ever something that needed to be measured?” Is time a derivative of the natural world or is it derived from man’s intentions? Did the concept of time come to be because people measure it?
In the modern world, the measurement of time has become so finite and detailed. People have gone from measuring time according to the seasons, to watching the sun rise and fall, and to the bare-bone seconds. It has turned itself into a universal and equally distributed currency.
It all comes down to seeing things the way they are. Whether people are conscious of time or not, people have aged since the moment of birth. It seems that time is always concerned with what man has made. If it were centered on nature, time has not really changed anything. The mountain ranges and redwood forests endure the tests of time. Whereas man-made structures and infrastructures can quickly crumble, change inevitably occurs as a result of an accumulation of actions, not necessarily with the passing of time.
This is not a debate of whether or not time exists, but depending on whether one believes in time as a concept or a reality, it can play a strong role in time management. But for those who are infused within the daily grind, the dollar and time become our currency.
The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs had once said, “My favorite thing in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” The currency of time has a daily expiration date; therefore it cannot be truly conserved. People must wisely manage what is given daily: the 24-hours.
These steps will help one wisely spend a precious resource.
1) Focus and Self-Control
These two factors are extremely important. Daily life is made up of tasks and an endless grocery list buried in the back of our minds. We can’t possibly tackle everything at one time. Albert Einstein had said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
A study done by neuroscientists at the French medical research agency in 2010 shows that each part of the brain handles a task when there is at least two tasks present. The brain power is split, and the tasks are not performed with quality.
Even in the natural mechanics of life, we as humans can only focus on one thing at a time. For example, when we walk we can only walk in one direction at a time. When we look at something, we can only focus our sights on one thing at a time. When a basketball player, golfer, or marksman aims at a target, there can only be one point of aim. Imagine if a marksman tries to focus on many different targets at a given time. The result would be a decrease in accuracy and quality of the shot.
The point is that when a task is at hand, it deserves full focus and attention. This means any distractions must be cleared from your thought processes. Get the task done and move onto the next one. One step at a time.
In regards to self-control, know exactly what your mind wants. If the mind is fickle and indecisive on which task to accomplish first, remember to re-focus yourself and tackle your tasks one at a time.
Prioritize your list of tasks. Taking things one step at a time does not mean doing everything on your grocery list in a consecutive manner. That is like trying to sprint a marathon or trying to mine a hole on the side of a mountain by trying to force yourself through with just a pick axe. You are going to burn yourself out. Mining a tunnel takes careful planning and careful placement of explosives; a pick axe just doesn’t cut it.
Envision yourself to be a commander of a battlefield, carefully planning out your day. Imagine if an army went into war without a strategy: it would be chaotic. For example, if you have a test coming up, make sure to prioritize that instead of succumbing to a need to go shopping or mowing the lawn.
3) Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.
Planning is also an efficient way to spend the 24-hours we are all given. In a game of chess, once a move is made, it cannot be taken back. Meaning that if you decide that most of your day will consist of doing chores, then great! But if you have an exam the next day you have not studied for it, then checkmate. Productivity occurred in neglect of prioritizing and the time spent cannot be refunded.
Make sure each day is planned accordingly as if you were to play a game of chess the moment your alarm wakes you up.
4) Starting the Day with a Correct Mind
In a race it is important to finish strong, but in the game of time management it is also about how one starts the day as well.
One can spend the last hour of the day in a good way, but if the rest of the day was not managed well, then that means most of the day has gone to a waste. If someone starts the day with a correct and determined mind, in theory the rest of the day will be spent well.
For example, visualize a straight line laid out in front of you. A good day would resemble being able to walk a straight path with a straight mind towards the end of the line. A bad day would resemble not being able to walk a straight path. Taking all of this into consideration, if you shy off the path even a few degrees to the left or right, the end result would be that you would be very far from your goal. Being off a few degrees might not seem like much in the beginning, but towards the end, the distance from the end of the line to where you are standing will be significant.
So what does this all mean? Having a positive, focused and correct mind will allow you to plow through the hours of the day.
Another way to see it is imagining a car. First gear might be slow and rough, but switching through the gears consecutively builds momentum and speed, allowing the car to move faster and faster. A mind that is wavering, lazy, faulty, and incorrect is like a mind that is just in neutral gear throughout the whole day. Even if it might be relaxing to idle and sit in your car, a car is designed to move forward. Similarly, our bodies are designed to keep active and alive.
Remember the goal is to move forwards, staying awake and alive, and accomplishing each and every hour to the fullest. So go through all your gears and you can idle in neutral when it comes to the end of the day.
5) Don’t Let Time Control You
Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once said, “I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”
Time is something we decided to measure, so don’t let time control you. It is there to help us, not to be against us. It is important to be one with time, like a surfer riding the waves. The waves can easily control you if you let it, but if you ride the waves, you can easily be one with the waves. Let time be that wave.
Let time float in the background as if it were an ambient sound. Don’t give too much thought to it. When you give too much thought to time, that is when it can easily control and distract you. This does not mean forget all the planning, just do not over think what has already been set. To clarify, treat time like a baby. Don’t give it too much attention. Just like babysitting, it does not require a babysitter to stare at the baby for the duration of the session; doing so will just create anxiety, frustration, and boredom. This is the same way to treat time. Don’t think about it constantly.
Let it do its job and let time run autonomously in the background. It is a beast that must be tamed.
6) Execute! Just do it!
The Nike motto says it best, “Just Do it.”
Henry Ford also said, “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”
A problem is there for us to solve it: that is its nature. No matter how much one tries to avoid them, they won’t be resolved by leaving it alone. More than beating around the bush, it will be easier in the long run to just do it.
It becomes a problem when we think too much about all that we have to do. It is the same as having a plate of food in front of you and just staring at it and thinking of what it might taste like. It makes sense to savor and anticipate the start of a good meal, but to prolong it just does not make sense. Food is there in front of you to take action and eat it.
In the wise words of Bruce Lee, “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” With all the steps combined, have full confidence to know that you can just execute and do what you have to do.
6) What About Sleep?
Yes. On average human beings do not use up all 24-hours while they are awake. We do need sleep.
You know how much sleep your body needs and you know how much you have to do during the day, so sleep accordingly! Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Six hours sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.”
Of course how much you sleep doesn’t dictate your gender, but it is always good to take into consideration the intention of Bonaparte’s words. Whether you decide to sleep three, four, six, eight hours, or even sleep the whole day, just remember to have enough to get through the day.
7) Now Manage Your Time!
With everything from focus, self-control, planning, to starting the day with a correct mind and not letting time take a hold of you, execute all these tips and just do it. More than having an explicit set of cooking instruction like steps, remember to also have a thorough understanding of time as well.
Understand time as if it were your boxing opponent. When you know your opponent, it will be harder for the opponent to expose and triumph over you. You will have the advantage.
Carpe Diem! Seize the day!